Wednesday, 29 October 2008

Basking in post-kd haze of happiness

I just saw kd lang twice, on Monday & Tuesday. It was so insanely awesome. She was funny and political and passionate and damn, she really is the best singer I have ever heard. Jess came with me to the first show and we were both in awe... getting to see kd up there, completely rocking the butch thing as Jess said, was amazing. The next night we took our beautiful dates with us and it was just as fantastic. I actually got a little teary-eyed during Hallelujah, holding T.'s hand and remembering when we first discovered this song, and thinking about everything that's happened since.

In between shows there was some great hanging out, not to mention a very tasty lasagna dinner. A weekend away with two concerts (and a dead car battery all the fault of yours truly, but let's skip over that part with a brief nod towards T.'s tough-guy femme heroism) should be the sort of thing that leaves you needing a weekend from your weekend. But I gotta say, when kd lang is the entertainment and Jess and Tina are the hosts, that's not the case. I feel relaxed and renewed and so, so glad to be here, at this moment in my life, with these friends and role models and T. still by my side.

Thursday, 23 October 2008

Just a Little Post About Marriage

I'm married. All kinds of married, actually. And I don't write about it a lot, I don't even usually refer to T. as my wife, though I do call her Mrs. MacCool, just between us. Longtime readers (or those with a taste for the archives) might remember that we took off our wedding rings this spring in a gesture of ending a very dysfunctional, unhappy time in our relationship and starting anew. (I don't miss the ring, though I occasionally wake up terrified that I've lost it somewhere, grabbing my finger in confusion until I remember it's safe in my jewelry box, with T.'s rings.)

We first put those wedding rings on during our commitment ceremony, which took place in March 2002. Those moments when we were saying our vows, seemingly alone in the universe, are some of my most precious memories.

There followed a string of legal semi-commitments: a muncipal domestic partnership (or maybe two?), a whole lot of signing forms swearing that we were mutually interdependent and committed so that she could get health insurance through my work, you probably all know the drill.

And then we found ourselves living in Massachusetts once again, and we got legally married on June 12, 2005. We jokingly say that we eloped this time: it was just us and our minister (after a trip to City Hall, of course), on a drenchingly hot, sticky day. Then we went to the beach and watched barnacles open and close under water, and had dinner overlooking the harbor. It was awesome.

I think marriage has some major issues as a social and cultural institution. And I regret a lot about the ways in which I've treated my own marriage, or to put it differently, my relationship with T. in the first six years following our first ceremony. Most of all I regret taking her for granted as much as I did.

But I've never once regretted our legal union. The legal status, recognition, and protection mean an enormous amount. They take all sorts of anxieties off the table (though not all--our Massachusetts marriage is still far from equal in the federal context), and give me a sense of equality that is really something. It's not ultimately about whether I think marriage is a perfect social form or not; it's about, to paraphrase the California Supreme Court, equal protection under the law.

For a while it looked like our marriage was in imminent danger of being undone by a proposal to amend the state constitution. Our amendment process is lengthy and complicated. I thought I'd be voting on an amendment this fall, but as it turned out, our Legislature didn't let it get that far. Still, I remember the sense of threat and insecurity, which even now is never entirely absent; it's only a fraction, though, of what married queer Californians are going through right now.

On the slight chance that you're reading this, and you're a US citizen, and you haven't already done whatever it is you can do to defeat Proposition 8 in California, head on over to one of these web sites.

No on Prop 8
Lesbiandad (see the right-hand column for a full panoply of No on 8 links & info)

And finally, my own humiliating contribution to Looky, Daddy's series on Because Everyone Has the Right to Be Awesome:

Because everyone has the right to get married on the cusp of a massive gender identity crisis, and to wear the resulting bizarre pseudo-glam-rocker outfit, LEGALLY:
(cropped to remove not only my head but also the worst footwear choice of my life. My bride looked much better, I should add.)

Tuesday, 21 October 2008

Because I Think Some Self-Mockery Is In Order

First off, thank you so much for your kind comments on my rant on Saturday. They really did make me feel a ton better. (The pizza & beer was good, too, but I want to take each of you who offered a beer up on your offer one of these days.)

And secondly, courtesy of the awesome Musodyke, the results of my personality defect quiz. Let's just say, when T. heard the results, she said, "This thing is more accurate than I would have thought..." But I swear, I don't look like that dude at all.

Your result for The Personality Defect Test...

Haughty Intellectual

You are 57% Rational, 14% Extroverted, 43% Brutal, and 57% Arrogant.


You are the Haughty Intellectual. You are a very rational person, emphasizing logic over emotion, and you are also rather arrogant and self-aggrandizing. You probably think of yourself as an intellectual, and you would like everyone to know it. Not only that, but you also tend to look down on others, thinking yourself better than them. You could possibly have an unhealthy obsession with yourself as well, thus causing everyone to hate you for being such an elitist twat. On top of all that, you are also introverted and gentle. This means that you are just a quiet thinker who wants fame and recognition, in all likelihood. Like so many countless pseudo-intellectuals swarming around vacuous internet forums to discuss worthless political issues, your kind is a scourge upon humanity, blathering and blathering on and on about all kinds of boring crap. If your personality could be sculpted, the resulting piece would be Rodin's "The Thinker"--although I am absolutely positive that you are not nearly as muscular or naked as that statue. Rather lacking in emotion, introspective, gentle, and arrogant, you are most certainly a Haughty Intellectual! And, most likely, you will never achieve the recognition or fame you so desire! But no worries!

Take The Personality Defect Test at HelloQuizzy

Saturday, 18 October 2008

Big Jerk

That's what the card I bought T. this afternoon says. Inside it says, sorry.

The day started off ok. I cleaned up our container garden for winter and changed the screens to storms in the front door. Then I started hanging curtains and wasting time and everything that's been making me mad recently just kind of bubbled to the surface. The high point was probably me slamming a curtain rod to the floor and making an unnecessarily jerky comment about one of T.'s family members. Nice, huh? So much for chivalry.

Finally I got myself together enough to get out of the house (civilly) and went for a six-mile walk. I kept walking until I'd calmed down and my head had cleared, and then I stopped by a pond, lay down, and let the sun soak into my face.

Lots of things have me on edge right now. I have a lot of work-related pressure, which ordinarily isn't a big problem for me. But at the moment I'm sick to death of my work. It feels like the ultimate good-girl profession, like something I chose in order to please my family and isolate myself from the world. I look at the series of hurdles ahead of me for promotion and career success and I just think, fuck it. I'm so over this treadmill. I was valedictorian of my high school class and honestly? I regret it, in a way. I regret using my being smart as a way out, as a way to be acceptable and to connect with people, as a way to 'deserve' my family's approval. I regret getting caught up in the cycle of rewards and achievement. In high school I also had a manual-labor job and I kind of wish I'd stuck with that, or something like it. Landscaping maybe, I'm good at that. Anyway it makes it hard to muster the energy to do anything work-related, while the deadlines pile up and I wonder, what am I doing?

Then there's family stuff. Not getting into that here for privacy reasons. Just adding it to my list of complaints.

And then there's the sense of loss and wasted time. I look at my new friends and acquaintances and I feel so incredibly happy. But how did I spend nearly thirty years with 'friends' who mostly actually didn't really like me? What was wrong with me? Why is this path, this life, this identity, so hard? (Cue violins, I realize this is a giant pity party, but it's my blog and I'll whine if I want to.) We went to a performance the other night that included the seemingly superficial line, imagine your life without homophobia. But as a friend pointed out, in fact, our lives would be unrecognizable had they been lived in a world without homophobia. Using my analogies from the other day, what would my youth have been like if my family had said, in addition to oh she's lefthanded, oh she has a boy soul? What if we didn't have to worry about random violence and harassment for how we look? What if T.'s colleagues' curiosity really felt only benign, and not like I was on the boundary of their definition of fully human? I think spending time with other butches and genderqueers etc. has really made me feel this stuff so much more strongly, partly because of the contrast with the sheer joy and calm and connection of hanging out with them, and partly because I see what they've been through and go through, and it's something different to see your own anxieties and heartbreaks walking around in front of you, lived by someone else, too.

And I haven't had enough time to work out, either. And I'm hungry. OK, with that, I'm off to pick up some pizza and open a beer. If you've made it through this post, I have the feeling I'm going to owe you a "Big Jerk - Sorry" card, too.

Thursday, 16 October 2008

Seven (More) Things About Me

I am deeply touched by Sublime Femme’s faith that the blogging world can stand reading seven more factoids about me. Rest assured that I have re-read my first such meme to ensure that there will be, in fact, SEVENTEEN unique bits of MacCool trivia available for anyone following along at home. (Anyone? Hello out there?)

OK, here it goes.

First, da rulz:

1. Link to your tagger and list these rules on your blog.
2. Share 7 facts about yourself on your blog - some random, some weird.
3. Tag 7 people at the end of your post by leaving their names as well as links to their blog.
4. Let them know they have been tagged by leaving a comment on their blog.

1. I started carrying white handkerchiefs (for the purpose of having them to offer to damsels in distress) not only before I identified as butch, but before I was even out of the closet. And I had no idea ANYONE ELSE had ever done such a thing outside of the movies. Imagine my surprise.
2. I broke my nose playing basketball in college. I am really awful at basketball but I was trying to impress a certain pretty girl. Oddly enough I think she was more impressed by the broken nose than my basketball playing. How about that?
3. I got two parking tickets in the last week. That’s not random, I realize (I mean, I was parked illegally in both cases) but I want an excuse to vent my self-pity.
4. The food I miss most from my non-vegetarian past is pepperoni pizza.
5. I like peanut butter & butter sandwiches much more than peanut butter & jelly. I’m not big on sweet stuff but salty stuff drives me crazy.
6. I checked Gwyneth Paltrow out on the street once and didn’t realize it was her until a block later. (The hot celebrity fan-stay-back glare isn’t that different from the standard straight girl queer-stay-back glare, I discovered.)
7. I can’t stand Coldplay and if I’m honest, I have to admit it’s partly that I’m jealous that he gets to have sex with Gwyneth Paltrow and I don’t. But I’d categorize their music under the general heading of “straight boy crap” anyway so it’s not total hypocrisy. (Apologies to anyone whose musical sensibilities I’ve just offended. I don’t mean it personally.)

And I’m tagging:

Packing Vocals

Femme Is My Gender
Queer Rose
Butch Boo
Freedomgirl
Femme Hinterland
SaintChick

Monday, 13 October 2008

Just a thought

We drove down to Washington this past weekend... well, I drove, and T. tried to get homework done. Something about a long ride makes for talking, I think. On the way down, after dark, as we passed through Delaware and then Baltimore, the discussion turned to gender. (You're shocked, I know.)

And maybe it was the dark, maybe it was the keeping my eyes on the road, maybe it was being alone in the car with her, just the two of us passing through a strange city. But I found able to say how I feel so much more simply and clearly than before.

I feel like I was born just fine. I was born with a masculine soul and a female body, but this seemed natural and comfortable to me. And then at some point, round about age 4, the terrible fact was revealed that this combination was not fine at all. It was labeled shame in the world I was born into.

I made an analogy to being left-handed (which I also am): it's the most natural, comfortable thing in the world, but after a while it is impossible to miss the fact that everything around you is backwards, designed for the right-handed people. Except that being left-handed is no longer shameful in our society.

Like the title says, this post is just for this thought, which somehow made clear to me why I don't feel like a balance of feminine and masculine but I also don't feel a desire to transition. It's because this masculine soul in this female body seems ok to me.

(This post started out as a comment over on Honey's recent post on gender, which is definitely worth a read if you haven't read it yet.)

Addendum to Thought: which is in no way to underplay how differently I live in this body, the way I walk, the way I dress, what I want and don't want in bed. And which is never, god forbid, to imply that there are neat categories, male/female bodies, masculine/feminine souls, that go without saying, that exist only as binaries, that are useful for more than strategic rhetorical aims. Indeed I realize even the soul/body distinction is suspect, and that my sense of self is perhaps worrying in its echoes of soul-culture-male/body-nature-female. And yet, and yet. How else to describe this sense of being, this embodiment?

Friday, 10 October 2008

Crush

Life has been jam packed recently, travel and more travel, work and more work, job applications and dancing and friends. I'm not complaining, in fact it's exactly what I want and what I need, but it means that I have been remiss in posting here.

And so a week has gone by and I have not even written about this amazing thing. You know how (straight) girls use the phrase 'girl crush' to mean a sort of infatuated hero worship thing in regards to another girl? It's always irritated me a little but I'm reclaiming it here, because I am seriously crushing on this person in exactly that way.

We went out the other night. From the moment she walked in the room I was in awe and it lasted all night. She embodied the exact female masculinity that feels most natural to me, but she did it with decision, certainty, panache, authority. She backed me up, humorously, when T. back seat drove (I was driving) and handled a random drunk guy on the street with grace and calm. She made fun of me when I got nervous and femmed out, and when she praised my parallel parking I let myself enjoy it, just a little, just for a moment.

This is not the eloquent post I've imagined writing all week. But this sort of thing never is eloquent, is it? But look, the thing is, I've never really met someone and thought, that. That's what I want to be when I grow up. And I've read about the baby butch thing and the butch mentor thing and I don't know if this is where this is going, really, in any more formal or elaborate sense. But I know I'm grateful to her for having the balls to exist the way she does and for letting me see it. And I wanted to let you all know about it, even in this awkward, haphazard, blushing and stumbling over my feet kind of way.